By Prof. Johan Malan, Mossel Bay, South Africa (August 2011)
A house built on sand is a house without a proper foundation – it is bound to collapse when it is battered by heavy storms, despite its solid appearance above the ground. The same principle applies to individuals and nations: without a sound spiritual and moral foundation they are heading for disaster when afflicted by the storms of life (cf. Matt. 7:24-27). Jesus Christ is the only true foundation that offers lasting stability against all the storms which are incessantly unleashed from an evil world: “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11).
The unpleasant fact about our present situation is that, despite a small minority of evangelical Christians, we are essentially living in a post-Christian world which has rejected the only true foundation. Politicians are the architects of a nation’s ideological foundation and they, as well as the electorate who agree with them and have elected them to positions of authority, must take the responsibility when things go horribly wrong. Everywhere in the world problems are rapidly mounting and they sure spell disaster. We already find ourselves in a situation in which most countries are heading for a major collapse in all spheres of public life – political, social, economic, moral, as well as religious. The signs of a dramatic breakdown are there for all to see.
At the heart of this crisis lies the concerted rejection of the Christian civilisation and all institutions which arose from it. It is nothing less than a spirit of rebellion and lawlessness which is driving this revolution against traditions and authority structures everywhere. In this uprising the authority of governments is specifically challenged, but also the authority of parents, teachers, employers and all other leaders in society.
The governments which are directly affected by a threatening collapse in the economic, moral and other fields, and which are targeted by the perpetrators of the expanding revolution, are obviously very surprised and think they are the victims of a completely unjust campaign against legitimate authority structures. But they themselves have set into motion a process of transformation which has now turned against its leaders. They have spearheaded antichristian reforms of which they did not realise the inevitable consequences.
Leaders everywhere are now asking the same question: “What went wrong in society, in the economy, and in the government in so many countries all over the world?” It is well that they should ask such questions as they are the ones who initiated the present changes. Let us therefore first consider the complicity of politicians in the present collapse before assessing the nature of the “popular revolt” which is intent on removing them from power.
We will first review the characteristics of a Christian society, and then briefly indicate its impact upon the world. We will then consider the main implications of post-Christian reforms in Western societies, followed by the biblical warning of the rise of antichristian societies on a global scale.
What is a Christian society?
To be able to fully appreciate the main features of a Christian society which has of late been rejected by most people, we should briefly state its main principles:
The Triune God is the Supreme Ruler of the universe. As the Creator, all His creatures are subject to His authority. It is to the honour of God, and also in the direct interest of every human being, to recognise His authority and to live according to His commands. God knows how vitally important it is for us to live in His sight and enjoy His blessings and protection, but He nevertheless gave us a free will to decide for ourselves how we wish to conduct our lives. If we make the wrong decision, we do not only forfeit divine blessings but also render ourselves easy targets to the opposing kingdom of darkness, which is the sworn enemy of God. In that case, people and nations who could have enjoyed God’s blessings subject themselves, to their own cost and detriment, to the wrath of God.
The Son is God’s Anointed One and appointed King. He is our Saviour, the Head of the Christian church, and the future King of the world. To Him has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. If we reject Him and live in conflict with Him and His gospel we expose ourselves to the wrath of the Lamb. Although we may succeed for a time with such foolishness we will eventually be confronted by the full force of His judgements. If we reject Christ, we are rejecting some of the following Christian principles:
Personal holiness. Christians are called upon to lead exemplary lives by daily striving to conform to God’s image of holiness (1 Pet. 1:15). Jesus Christ is our example and we should follow in His footsteps (1 John 2:6).
Christian marriage. In His works of creation God created a man and a woman and also instituted the marriage union between them. He did not create homosexuals – they are the product of depraved human societies with perverted values. Christian families are the building blocks of orderly, Christian societies, and the primary groups within which Christian values should be instilled in children.
Christian education. If God and His Word are to be held in high esteem, our children should be educated in the fear of the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). Public schools, as well as institutions for higher education, are extensions of the basic tuition provided by families, and for that reason they should also explicitly be based upon Christian standards.
Righteousness and transparency in governance. National governments were instituted by God (Rom. 13:1-2). They have a function to lead, protect, and develop their people, and also to maintain law and order. If they recognise the supreme authority of the God of the Bible they should be committed to reflect the righteousness of God in their policies and actions by opposing sin in all its manifestations: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). In a government which respects Christian norms there can be no room for corruption, bribery, oppression, double standards, or any other evil practices.
Biblical administration of justice. The Bible demands suitable actions of punishment and disciplinary measures against criminals (Rom. 13:4). Detainees should not be tortured but, on the other hand, prison houses should not become government-sponsored boarding-houses where the inmates feel at home and do not receive their just punishment.
Refraining from offensive warfare. Christian societies should pursue peace with all nations as a major objective. Governments have the duty to protect their citizens but may only take up arms in defence of their country. They have no biblical right to invade other countries, attack and subject their inhabitants, and deprive them of their rights and land.
A Christian work ethic. It is a strong Christian virtue to be hard working, including manual labour, to produce enough food or earn enough money to care for your family, and also to have enough resources to pay taxes and help those who are in need. The Bible says: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). Your dependants should prepare themselves to become financially self-sufficient. Do not encourage people to become lazy by supporting them financially without expecting a suitable counter reaction from them.
The self-determination of cultural groups. God has determined boundaries between different peoples, or cultural groups, and these boundaries should be respected (Acts 17:26). Every such group has a God-given right to maintain its own ethnic identity, speak its own language, and live according to its own cultural values. Other groups or nations should respect the rights of ethnic minorities by not subjecting them and forcing them to conform to other cultures. Voluntary alliances may be formed, but without any unreasonable coercion or assimilation.
Equitable economic policies. Economic policies which comply with biblical standards will not be characterised by unfair practices such as exploiting their subjects through very high taxation, the rendering of poor services, the paying of extravagant salaries to politicians and senior government officials, or allowing state debt to rise to very high levels because of overspending.
The discouraging of a sinful lifestyle. The observance of Christian principles commits governments with a Christian constitution to discourage and outlaw sinful practices such as corruption, gambling, drunkenness, drug addiction, violent behaviour, prostitution, etc.
The impact of Christian societies
Although there are (or have never been) any truly Christian societies in every sense of the word, substantial Christian reforms were nevertheless instituted in certain European and other countries. During the great revivals of the 18th and 19th centuries, a marked Christian tradition was established in several countries, and also gave rise to Christian constitutions. To a greater or lesser degree, the principles mentioned above were observed by these societies. Missionaries went out from European and British countries and they evangelised many other societies throughout the world.
In Europe and England the Bible was translated into the local vernacular and that gave rise to adult literacy programmes as more and more people wanted to read the Bible. Through the Christian faith, people were delivered from superstitious thinking and the fatalistic acceptance of supernatural powers such as witchcraft. The notion of natural cause and effect was accepted, and gave rise to empirical research in medicine, engineering, and various other disciplines. Secondary and tertiary education flourished and gave rise to the industrial revolution. Although many of the professional people and scientists later almost renounced their Christian convictions, the basic impetus for the development of these sciences nevertheless came from a creative mindset which was the product of the Christian faith. Various universities originated as a second phase after the initial establishment of theological seminaries.
Eventually, a fully-fledged Western civilisation emerged which was also described as the Christian civilisation. Rapid development followed in various fields, and these skills and knowledge systems quickly spread to other parts of the world. Great wealth and prosperity was created by extensive advances in trade and technology, and ultimately gave rise to a secular worldview described as humanism. Man became the master of his own destiny, and completely lost touch with the Christian origin of the Western civilisation.
Countries in other parts of the world benefited greatly from what they learned form the West, and also from the trade links that was established by these First World countries – but the Christian message was soon forgotten. The East (particularly Japan) made tremendous technological advances after being propelled into the technological age by the West, and the Arab countries became very wealthy through the selling of crude oil to the developing world.
The denial of a society’s Christian tradition
We now have to find an answer from the Bible on the important question of what happens to a country or society which denies its former Christian principles.
In course of time, the West all but lost their Christian tradition and they now can only boast in their achievements in other spheres of life. These countries, as well as most of their churches, apostatised to such an extent that they, for several years already, have been referring to themselves as the post-Christian Europe. They have adopted secular or multireligious constitutions, discontinued Christian education, repealed their policies against antichristian evils such as prostitution, gambling, homosexuality, etc. They became selfish and arrogant, and refuse to be limited or tied down by biblical norms which they describe as “obsolete Christian principles”. They have already deteriorated spiritually and morally to the point of rising against the authority of God, and also against Christian ethics.
Since post-Christian countries, through their educational curricula, are fostering a humanistic worldview in learners and students, they ensure that the history of the nations will end where it all began, i.e. the building of a tower of Babel (Gen. 11; Rev. 17 & 18). In such a society, man exalts himself above God by completely rejecting His authority; he lives in unrestricted liberty, and establishes a mighty, multinational empire on earth which is solely controlled by the laws and rules determined by united humanity.
In a Messianic Psalm, attention is focused on the vain (empty and worthless) reforms that end-time world leaders will institute in order to liberate humanity from God’s biblical order. Western governments are particularly the ones implied by this passage from Scripture, as they are the governments that formerly observed Christian principles: “Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us” (Ps. 2:1-3).
During the past few decades, political and other leaders have engaged in a calculated process of rejecting and uprooting Christian principles in society. This was done under the guise of humanistic or democratic reforms aimed at securing total freedom and unrestricted liberties for all members of society. Constitutions were fundamentally changed, removing all statements of recognising the supreme authority of the Triune God. This change inevitably also brought about an end to Christian education and the honouring of Christian principles in society at large.
But what these humanistic leaders do not realise is that the process of liberation from Christian norms and standards which they have driven, could produce a backlash and turn against their own authority where they themselves are then seen as stumbling-blocks in the process of humanity’s complete liberation. Such a country is like a sinking ship without anchors: the leaders do not know how to save the country from collapse, while the revolting masses have even less of an idea on what should be done. Political, socio-economic, moral, and religious shipwreck has become inevitable in many countries, as is evident from the following broad review of global conditions:
USA: As far as their constitution is concerned, the USA is now 21 years into a post-Christian era since adopting a secular constitution in 1990, wherein all religions are regarded as being equal. The government itself does not associate with any one of these faiths. It was a bumpy road for Americans ever since, with the moral and spiritual fabric of society rapidly deteriorating. The Bible was banned from US public schools long before 1990, giving them a flying start into the post-Christian era. With the fear of God no longer instilled in children from a young age, the youth soon became rebellious and unmanageable. Violence and drug abuse in schools increased. The adult generation followed suit, and small evangelical churches started losing many members to mega churches in which modern entertainment is offered and man and his needs, rather than God, occupy the central position. Multireligious thinking also became popular and explains perverted phenomena such as “Chrislam” – the convergence and ultimate fusion of Christianity and Islam. Government and society became increasingly materialistic, and the demands of the consumer society soared to new heights. The US government set a very bad example of living above its means, and has now increased its debt ceiling to more than $16 trillion, thereby causing extreme uncertainty in the financial markets. Investment trust in a “sinking ship” obviously decreases sharply, and that country now faces a serious recession, which leads to higher unemployment and a deepening fear for the future.
Europe: In Europe, the situation is virtually the same. Entire countries face bankruptcy because of overspending. Even an economical strong country such as France is facing the downgrading of its credit rating. The threatening economic meltdown is also attended by the inevitable disintegration of society due to the vanishing of Christian-based moral values. Modern youth are poorly motivated to act in a decent and responsible way by committing themselves to their studies or work and making a success of life. Another factor which weakens social cohesion is a form of culture shock which is caused by high immigration from foreign countries. Cultural identity and patriotism are undermined in highly heterogeneous societies, causing the young generation to have very little respect for the traditions and language of their forefathers. They use a form of slang language which later becomes a lingua franca in mixed societies. The youth revolt in Brittan is a complex problem and should be understood against this background. It is one of the many alarming outcomes of post-Christian (or postmodern) reforms in the Western world.
The Arab world: The instant wealth of the oil-producing Arab states did not benefit society as a whole. In most of these countries only the royal families and a selected group of rich people are in control of their national assets. The majority of the population are not properly trained, while almost the entire Arab society still adheres to a medieval belief system in which no regard is fostered for constructive Christian values. These largely undeveloped societies found it more convenient to engage thousands of foreign companies, while also importing workers and professionals from abroad to build and maintain their modern economies. But these countries are now seriously shaken by a popular revolt against the small elite that controls all the power and wealth. There is no easy solution to these problems without fundamentally reconstructing society. But the Arab nations do not have the correct spiritual and moral mindset to ensure a sound basis for human and economic development. The following virtues and attributes are needed: rational thinking based upon the principles of natural cause and effect, personal accountability towards God, moral values that will ensure an orderly society, a religion that offers true, divine love, as well as liberation from superstition and fanaticism. They are consumed by a “holy hatred” of the true God’s covenant people (Israel) and His New Testament people (the Christians), even to the point where many of them are waging a “holy war” against these groups. As long as they remain determinedly antichristian and anti-Jewish they will not find a real and lasting solution to their problems. They are, in fact, bound to face even more serious problems than those that they already encounter.
The Orient: Many of the Eastern countries have succeeded in implementing Western style capitalism with its free-market system, which leads to competitive societies that are strongly committed to research, training, development, and professional excellence. But in the absence of a Christian mindset and sound moral values, all their financial wealth and technological skills could not prevent the emergence of a “lost generation” in society at large – a young generation without strong religious and moral roots. This disrupted and directionless generation of youngsters struggle to find equilibrium in a senseless, dangerous world. With no clear purpose in life, many of the youths surrender themselves to carnal pleasures, drugs and unbridled emotions. If this lost generation is not approached and reintroduced into a society with firm values and sound beliefs, the future for that nation is bleak indeed.
Africa: In Africa and other parts of the Third World, the modern communication media have also introduced the aberrant ideas and questionable lifestyles of the postmodern and post-Christian world. Mass demonstrations are rapidly becoming a way of life here, as a form of expressing dissatisfaction with governments, employers, wage-structures, educational institutions, etc. These demonstrations are seen as instant solutions to problems and quick access to more wealth, but these instigated groups often turn violent and cause a lot of damage to buildings, cars, and infrastructure, while in some cases lives are also claimed. In this way a country is not improved and strengthened, but weakened and even broken down. Poorly educated and poorly trained people will never solve their problems and frustrations in this immoral and crude manner. They only pave the way for a coup d’état and the reintroduction of dictatorships, which will lead to ever more exploitation of society. The outside world will not support such a country through big investments, and that will lead to their further impoverishment. The most that failed states can hope for is assistance in the form of poverty relief. As in all other countries, the Third World is also on a course of rejecting the Christian faith and the Christian way of life, and in so doing they are moving further away from the possibility of a durable solution to their problems.
The emerging new world order of the Antichrist
Most countries of the world are participating in the uprooting of Christianity, and in so doing they are positioning themselves to accept the emerging new world order of the Antichrist. When he comes, the entire deceived world will already have deteriorated to the point where they will be without any firm spiritual or moral roots, and consequently they will easily accept the Antichrist as their leader, and even worship him. In his end-time vision John clearly saw this scenario: “The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. … And they also worshipped the beast and asked, Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him? … He opened his mouth to blaspheme God … . And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation” (Rev. 13:3-7).
It is obvious that before the Antichrist can be revealed, accepted and worshipped by all people, faith in the true Christ must first be rejected and eradicated, and the remaining Christians removed from the scene (cf. 2 Thess. 2:6-8). We are now in the final phase before the revelation of the man of sin and the institution of his antichristian new world order. What we witness all around us is the overthrowing of Christian foundations in our societies. This revolution is waged over such a wide front that the minority of Christians are powerless against it:
“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup” (Ps. 11:3-6).
The present revolution against God and His Anointed is a time of testing for us while the wicked are increasing the pace of their post-Christian reforms in anticipation of the revelation of the cosmic christ of all faiths. A spiritual polarisation is occurring in all societies, in which the vile become more vile, but the holy are called upon to become more holy (Rev. 22:11). At a moment when nobody expects it, the Lord Jesus will remove the withholder against the Antichrist from the earth (i.e. His true church indwelt by the Holy Spirit) and then the man of sin will be revealed and deceive people as never before in history (2 Thess. 2:6-12).
The seven years of the rule of this false christ is also described as “the day of the Lord” (Isa. 13:9-13). The wicked will then be judged by God, flee panic-stricken to the mountains, “and say to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16-17).
In Psalm 2, the leaders of the nations are warned to avoid such a horrific situation: “Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” (Ps. 2:10-12).
The only sound advice in times like these is to receive the Lord Jesus as your personal Saviour, to proclaim the gospel message to other people, and to be spiritually vigilant: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).
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